Ray inspired Sir Chris to pedal for his medals

Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has paid tribute to the man who inspired him to aim for Olympic victory when he was just a teenager.

Ray Harris, who has died at the age of 78, ran the Dunedin Cycling Club, where Sir Chris trained as a youngster.

Born near Birmingham, Ray moved to the Borders in 1953 and then served with the RAF in India as an electronics engineer.

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He moved to Edinburgh in 1970 and joined Dunedin Cycling Club in 1972, becoming its chairman a few years later. He ran the club with his family until the mid-nineties.

He would run club nights on Fridays at Meadowbank Stadium during the summer months, and in winter the group would move to a scout hut in Clermiston.

It was during these training sessions that he inspired the young Chris Hoy, along with fellow cycling stars Craig Maclean and Marco Librizzi.

It was on Mr Harris's advice that the young Hoy wrote, in his teens, that his long-term goal was to be "Olympic champion".

On seeing this, Mr Harris encouraged him to aim high, and later said: "Chris said very early on he wanted to be Olympic champion. Not many kids say that, but I wasn't going to mock him for it.

"Why should we try and limit what somebody wants to dream about? We drew up a plan, and it proved to be spot-on. It's almost a fairytale."

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Sir Chris recalled: "Ray was one in a million. When I was just 13 he sat with me after training and listened to my ambitions. When I mentioned Olympic gold, he didn't laugh, he just said OK, if that's what you want, how are you going to get it?"

In addition to goal-setting, Mr Harris was a great proponent of making scientific measurements of his athletes' performance. His scientific approach, at the time thought eccentric, has since become commonplace in sports training.

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At Moray House teacher training college, he used a stationary bike attached to a computer to measure the wattage each rider generated and tested some of Scotland's best up-and-coming cyclists.

Sir Chris said: "I remember loving the measurability of Ray's tests. It appealed to my personality, this idea that if you did X, it will result in Y happening to your performance.

"As a kid I wasn't the kind of person who did really well at sports that required a lot of intuition, skill, interpretation or subjectivity. I wasn't good at racket sports, which required hand-eye co-ordination. I did all right at rugby, but I was never that great. But I loved the science behind cycling."

Mr Harris wrote the first coaching manual for the Scottish Cyclists' Union and was manager of the Scottish youth and women's teams. He was also chairman of the East of Scotland Cycling Association for several years.

Following his death, Sir Chris paid a warm tribute to his former trainer. He said: "Ray had energy and enthusiasm, and he always had time and patience. His enthusiasm was infectious, and he was a warm, friendly person – the kind who restores your faith in mankind.

"He spent his life doing things for other people, and he was devoted to helping cyclists.

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Mr Harris died on 10 September after a short illness, and is survived by wife Doreen and their sons Andy and Nicky.